Leaving Kitware

I met Bill Hoffman at Camp KDE in Jamaica while my wife was pregnant with our first child in February 2009, and I interviewed shortly after that before joining Kitware in October 2019 (visas were hard, even back then). I handed in my resignation in early June after over a decade at the company, the image above is the top of the award for ten years of dedication I received at the Christmas party last year. I have achieved a lot, I have learned a lot and I have grown a lot. I have known it was time to seek out my next challenge for a while now…

I joined the company with a passion for open science, especially open chemistry. I was the principal investigator for my first funded project to update Avogadro, and develop companion applications. That led to founding the Open Chemistry project, and creating an umbrella project to group related efforts in the open chemistry space. We had our first Avogadro User Meeting, hosted in Pittsburgh, PA by Geoff Hutchison in 2018, and have been a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code for five years now. I am finishing up the edits on a great paper about some of the latest work in Open Chemistry during my final days at the company resulting from a great collaborative project.

Avogadro meeting in Pittburgh, PA—so many mugs

I have been involved with many projects while at Kitware, including the development of an OpenGL accelerated charting framework in VTK that is still being used, rewriting and modernizing the CMake build system, and the rewrite of the 3D rendering backend to use modern OpenGL APIs. I worked on software process, when I joined everything was still using CVS, and I was a part of the conversion of several repos to Git (with a little pushback from quite a few). I joined when I think there were around fifty people, and leave when there are over one hundred and fifty people (guesses, don’t hold me to either number)!

About halfway into my career at Kitware I partnered with researchers at Cornell and we got funding to develop what became Tomviz. I had done some transmission electron microscopy in my PhD research, but this was an opportunity to learn about state-of-the-art scanning transmission electron microscopy. This was a great opportunity which to develop something for experimentalists, where I came from, to offer a better software environment in a challenging field. Over the years we were able to gain more funding and extend it to support other types of tomography too, and the work has required quite a bit of travel as it was disseminated. The image below is from a meeting in Rigi Kulm, Switzerland where I presented to an international audience of researchers on the latest work in Tomviz.

The cloud tops at Rigi Kulm presenting Tomviz to an international audience

I have published, given invited talks, a few keynotes and a TEDx talk discussing the need for open science. I have led and worked on projects funded by small business grants, federally funded projects and a number of commercially funded projects. I was able to grow a team of my own working on chemistry and materials science, and they are the people I will miss the most.

Through all of that I was supported in my immigration journey from H-1B (with quite the wait and once I obtained my poor wife was not allowed to work), to green card to naturalized US citizen. We grew our family, and made many friends. As with everyone else we have spent the last few months in pandemic lockdown, it is not the ideal time to make a move. I will talk about what is next another day but for now so long and thanks for all the fish!

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